It is with great sadness that I react to the death of Annegret Bollée, distinguished creolist, professor at Bamberg University, my dear colleague and dearest friend. We had the great pleasure to celebrate her lifetime achievement award of Society of Pidgin and Creole Linguistics just some weeks ago at the SPCL online summer meeting. Annegret gave an interesting talk about her current work on word formation in creole languages. She once more showed that her breadth of knowledge on French creoles and related French dialects (in synchrony and diachrony) has been and will stay outstanding for future creolists and language contact specialists. What a gift for creole studies and for all of us she was!
Personally, I owe her so much. In 1989, I went to the Seychelles with her for the first time. She introduced me to many Seychellois, we went swimming very early in the morning when the day was still fresh and cool, and Annegret loved to eat fresh tropical fruits. She was a hard-working person, but was always ready to take a break, to chat, to share her immense knowledge with me, a young PhD student at the time. Already then she inspired in me the love for creole cultures and languages. In the early 90s, I tried to become a classical Romance linguist at Annegret’s chair in Bamberg. She offered me the best conditions ever (professionally and personally) to flourish. But after 7 years I decided to quit Romance linguistics and to go back to my first true love, creole languages. She was sad that I left, but she had the highest respect for my decision. What a true teacher and mentor!
I have never come across any person with such a beautiful generosity of spirit. I will miss her so much. Rest in peace, dear Annegret.
Susanne Maria Michaelis
P.S. Please feel free to leave a tribute below (‘Leave a reply’), in any language you wish. You may also send me photos so that I can display them as part of this post (susanne_michaelis[at]eva.mpg.de).
Here are links to obituaries by Ingrid Neumann-Holzschuh, Martin Haase, Bamberg University, and University of Seychelles & Creole Institute of Seychelles, Seychelles News Agency.
I am saddened to learn of the passing of Annegret Bollée in August of this year. I first met Annegret in the French Antilles in the early 1980s when I was conducting dissertation research on the Creole of Guadeloupe and politics. She was kind and generous, with compassion for her students, both former and current, for whom she manifested great loyalty. Annegret supported Creole research in the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean, founding the multilingual series Kreolische Bibliothek to which she often contributed her own resources, both professional and financial. It was in these volumes that my work was published. Annegret expertly guided the book’s final editing and publication. We missed her on the occasion of the 16th Colloque International des Études Créoles in October/November of 2018 in the Seychelles, for it was in this Indian Ocean archipelago that she began her extraordinary and extensive research on Seychellois Creole in the 1970s. Annegret will be greatly missed.
I must have met Annegret Alsdorf-Bollée in Cologne in 1970. In 1969, she had completed her doctorate in Bonn with the thesis “Die lateinischen Verbalabstrakta der u-Deklination und ihre Umbildungen im Romanischen” (The Latin verbal abstracts of the u-declension and their transformations in Romance), a topic that fitted perfectly into the tradition-rooted world of her then teacher Harri Meier. When I met her, she was an assistant to Meier’s student Hans-Dieter Bork. In the new building of the Cologne Philosophikum, orchestrated by the Anglicist Helmut Bonheim, we had rooms opposite each other, separated by a kind of atrium. Annegret often greeted me from the other side when the window was open, with her characteristic open-mindedness and friendliness. After that, we lost sight of each other for a while: I disappeared to Siegen in 1975, she to Bamberg three years later.
The fact that she was the daughter of the famous Indologist Ludwig Alsdorf was as foreign to me then as the fact that she was now working in a completely different field. Through a lecture given by Robert A. Hall Jr. in Cologne, she came across Creole studies, a completely new field of research for German Romance Philology studies, while looking for a habilitation topic. Through Philip Baker, with whom she remained associated throughout his life, and Robert Chaudenson, she then came across the research object of Seychelles Creole.
In 1977, her book “Zur Entstehung der französischen Kreolendialekten im Indischen Ozean – Kreolisierung ohne Pidginisierung.” was published. Together with the book published in the same year, “Le créole français des Seychelles. Esquisse d’une grammaire – textes – vocabulaire”, this was her Cologne habilitation achievement, which led to her appointment to Bamberg in 1978. “Creolisation without pidginisation” was the philologically well-founded thesis that made Annegret Bollée suddenly famous in the professional world.
In 1984/85, we founded an SFB in Freiburg on the topic of “Transitions and spans between orality and writing”. Romance projects were to investigate the development of Romance languages as written languages in the Middle Ages and – surprise, surprise – the development of Romance-based creole languages into written languages. Annegret Bollée, who can rightly be called the mother of Seychelles Creole as a written language, was indispensable here as a reference person (and not least as a reviewer). She has always supported and promoted the work of young scholars: Susanne Michaelis, Sibylle Kriegel(-Haase), Ralph Ludwig, Sabine Philipp-Sattel, Cynthia K. Stäbler (Dermarkar), Michaela Strobel-Köhl, Stefan Pfänder, Raphaële Wiesmath.
Annegret Bollée can therefore justifiably be called not only the mother of Seychellois as a language with grammar, orthography and dictionary. She is also the scientific authority behind a large number of particularly good works in her field. In the meantime, her own works include various etymological dictionaries on creole languages, where she has remained true to her scientific origins.
She was thus an internationally recognised great not only Creole scholar, but also a great Romance scholar who always remained true to her origins. I remember her with gratitude.
Annegret and I met first at the Pidgin and Creole Conference in Hawai’i in 1975 and found we had lots to say to one another. We kept on corresponding and exchanging papers ever since-and last year Annegret kindly sent me her Dictionaire étylmlogique- a very generous gift. I have larnt a lot from her writings and will miss her.
It is sad to say goodbye to Annegret because somehow she seemed so solid and eternal! I had so many projects planned with her, which I hope I will later be able to undertake with her friends, Susanne and Sibylle. Ever since I joined the Creole Institute, Annegret has been part of my world, and when I moved to the University of Seychelles, the whole ‘lasentklik’ moved with me, for our collaborations did not miss a beat. Annegret has left a legacy that will never die in Seychelles, because we, her friends and collaborators, will continue working in memory of her.
Lors de la cérémonie d’adieu, le fils de Simon Veil disait qu’on ne remercie jamais assez ses parents. Je me sens un peu dans cette position par rapport à Annegret Bollée qui a été ma Doktormutter inoffielle quand j’ai rédigé ma thèse sur le tayo. Non seulement elle m’a accueillie dans sa bibliothèque à Bamberg, mais aussi dans sa maison dans cette belle ville allemande quand j’arrivais du Pacifique Sud. Je garde un souvenir très fort de nos échanges, de sa rigueur scientifique et de son humanité profonde. Elle a compté beaucoup dans ma vie.
What a major loss for creolistics! Annegret was an invaluable source of information about French during the colonial period and helped balance debates/polemics on the emergence of French creoles in the Indian Ocean. She definitely played a critical role in helping us understand Seychellois and its relation to Mauritian. And above all this, she was caring and charming. I feel privileged to have been invited to celebrate her scholarship at the last SPCL meeting and to have corresponded with her afterwards. May she rest in peace.
I got to know Annegret when I moved to Bamberg in 1994, and I immediately came to like and respect her greatly, because she was at the same time “down to earth” and immensely erudite – she knew half of Wartburg’s “French Etymological Dictionary” (https://lecteur-few.atilf.fr/index.php/site/index) by heart, but always kept the volumes nearby because she wanted to make sure she could easily look up the other half. She studied the living creole languages, but viewed them through the lense of historical Romance linguistics, which had contributed so much to our understanding of language change since the days of Diez and Meyer-Lübke. When we celebrated her 60th birthday in 1997, her colleague Wolfgang Raible gave a speech where he remarked: “Most of us have merely analyzed languages, but you, Annegret, have actually helped create a written language, by proposing an orthography for Seychelles Creole which was actually adopted and introduced in schools in the late 1970s. So you are almost on a par with linguists such as Cyril and Method who created written languages.” When Annegret first traveled to the Seychelles in the early 1970s, there was no airport there and she had to take the boat from Mombasa. So she was a true pioneer, and she kept visiting her friends and collagues there until a few years ago.
Annegret’s warmth and generosity (including generosity with books) were truly prodigious and remarkable in this era. A great human being, whose quiet yet marvellous achievements will be greatly missed. Requiescat in pace.